Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pattern Review: Papercut Patterns Skipper Tunic in Washed Linen

I have to say this project fought me somewhat along the way. However I was so in love with the fabric, a beautiful blue/green crossweave washed linen from our late 2016 delivery, that I was determined to make it work. And I'm pretty happy that I got there in the end. (End-of-the-day crumpled photos because we like to keep it real.)

The Skipper Tunic was released by NZ designers Papercut Patterns last year as part of their nautically-inspired 'Ahoy' collection. I loved the simple shape, square neckline and lace-up placket. Papercut offers free worldwide shipping (how?) so I bought this from their shop and in fact added another pattern because, to tell the truth, I wondered how they could make any profit on single pattern purchases with free postage. I can't help thinking of other small businesses.

Initially I made a basic muslin to test the sizing and fit. As I expected, I felt it worth sizing down and adding a full bust adjustment, a very common alteration for me. I also lengthened the pattern quite a bit because I wanted it to be a just-above-knee dress rather than mid-thigh tunic.

Then I went ahead with the linen. It all came together quite nicely, tra la laa... until I tried the almost finished garment on. Meh. It felt baggier and more boxy than I was hoping. And when I lifted my arm, the shoulder bunched up and the side seam 'tented' out, while it seemed to pull at the centre front of the sleeve/armscye join. I'm afraid the poor quality pictures below are the only remaining evidence, but you should get the idea.

There were a few contributing factors here.
- The washed linen has a bit of 'give' so probably increases the size and bagginess a bit.
- The neck facing (which I had omitted in my muslin, simply cutting a square neck hole), which is interfaced and goes right across to join in at the top and sides of the armholes, added quite a bit of structure to the shoulders. Omitting the interfacing would have softened this off a bit. I probably could have left the interfacing out of the placket pieces too because these ended up quite stiff as well.
- The sleeve shape simply didn't suit me. I guess I hadn't done enough moving around in my muslin to work this out.

I compared the shape of the Skipper sleeve pattern piece (on top, below) to a sleeve I like, from the Deer and Doe Aubepine dress (underneath).

As you can see there's quite a dramatic difference. The Skipper sleeve cap is tall and pointy, meaning it joins in to the armscye at quite an acute downward angle. The Aubepine sleeve cap is much more rounded and, for me, gives a more natural shape and range of comfortable movement. I compared the armscye shapes and sizes of Skipper and Aubepine and they were very similar. Solution found!

I was able to unpick the sleeves and recut the sleeve caps using the Aubepine pattern piece. I basted the sleeves in place and also basted the side seams, narrowing the dress a bit more through there. Once I tried it on I was much happier with the sleeves and fit, so I sewed it all up properly. Arm movement restored!

I still felt the whole dress was a bit 'boxy' on me, so to soften it off a bit I brought in the ends of the sleeves with a bit of elastic. I added patch pockets to break it up a bit and also because, well, pockets.
The placket lace holes are meant to be made with metal grommets, but my one and only grommet experience so far had been disappointingly fray-prone. So I chose to make very small buttonholes instead.

With no appropriate lacing cord to hand I tried a bit of folded and zigzagged selvedge, which I don't mind and I haven't got around to changing yet. So it's probably staying!

Beer: Prancing Pony. Shoes: Duckfeet.

Pattern: Skipper Tunic by Papercut Patterns
Fabric: 100% linen, washed/softened, Marine (sold out) but more linens here
Size: Sizing for the Skipper (I'm not sure about their other patterns) seems to run on the large side. I measured around a Size M, sized down to S with an FBA and then took the sides in. The sizing ranges from XXS to XL.
Comments: This is my first Papercut Patterns make. They have quite a few lovely designs and seem to have a good reputation with sewists around the interwebs. I find the Skipper sleeve shape odd but it may well be a design choice that just doesn't suit my shape. The patterns are beautifully presented, the instructions are clear and thorough and it's all printed on recycled paper. I've worn this dress quite a lot already, it's comfortable, easy to wash and iron and hits a great mid-point between casual and dressy that suits my wardrobe.

One last note: I sifted through every available blog post about the Skipper to see if anyone mentioned gaping at the placket, because it certainly dips down way past where I would be comfortable with giving anyone an eyeful. No-one did. In the end my placket pieces ended up overlapping a few millimetres at the bottom, which was not intended but I decided it would help with keeping things secure. I also increased the number of lace holes. And I'm happy to report no flashing so far.

- Jane & Fiona xx


  1. I support you 100% on the sleeve substitution. If I see a tall sleeve cap, I immediately sense we won't be friends.

    Lovely dress!

    1. Ah that's good to hear, thank you! I'll know to look out for that shape now. I love how there's always something more to learn with sewing.

  2. The sleeve change dramatically improved the fit of this on you!! What a difference! And of course I love the beer shot! ;-)

  3. So well done! It looks awesome on you! Cheers to that!


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